With fan discontent heating up the feud between president Dilma Rousseff's sports minister Aldo Rebelo and the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) the CBF has put leadership of the national team in play by renewing the contract of coach Mano Manezes into calendar year 2014 but not to coach the Samba Boys for the FIFA Brazil 2014 World Cup.
Manezes was chided by fans at a media event before Brazil's poorly played penalty shot 2-1 victory in injury time over Argentina in the first leg of the Supercup of the Americas series in Goiania on September 16th. Fans called millionaire stars Neymar and Lucas "mercenaries." And during the game at Serra Dourada stadium, many of the 40,000 fans chanted for the coach to be sacked.
Manezes, who is well schooled in media relations, shrugged off the incidents. But center forward Luis Fabiano, another of the millionaire Samba Boys, criticized fans for speaking out. The second round of the Supercup will be played in Argentina and Brazil only needs to play for a tie to win the tournament
The uninspired play of the Samba Boys and the unoriginal strategies of Manezes underscore the need for a changing of the guard at the old boy dominated CBF and bringing younger, more socially inclusive leadership into the mix.
Then too, there is little incentive for the Brazil side to "play big" since the Manezes team is exempted by FIFA regulations from having to qualify through the critical knock-out rounds that build team spirit and the mental toughness that is required to win. Even current FIFAWorld Cup holder Spain must compete for one of the 31 slots in the finals in Brazil.
For his part, Manezes is shifting the blame for Brazil's lack of momentum onto the CBF, claiming that the organization has scheduled friendly matches against predominantly weak opposition on the road to the World Cup. Manezes has also relied too much on Neymar as a designated scorer and the man who has the leadership skills to captain the team. The 20 year old superstar whose creative ball tricks and efforts to create space are becoming predictable to smart defenders was red carded out of a league game while acting as captain on Sunday.
Even the usually reserved Pele has gone public with his concerns about the maturity and lifestyles of some of the young players and says Manezes is "a little insecure."
Former Palmeiras and Chelsea coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, who led the Brazil to victory in the FIFA World Cup a decade ago is indeed waiting in the wings. "Big Phil", as he is affectionately called by Brazilian fans, has been brought on by sports minister Rebelo as a special consultant for football affairs.
To show sports media and fans he is taking action to improve the national team Manezes recently capped injury prone Real Madrid midfielder Kaka, long in the bad books of his manager Jose Mourinho, to play against Iraq and Japan in Europe later this month.
But while Kaka is set to play two matches with the current Manezes assemblage the question of whether his heart is committed to playing winning football for Brazil is another matter.
When Real Madrid blocked the transfer of Kaka to other teams in Europe in August there was media speculation the midfielder would replace David Beckham at the LA Galaxy, or be moved to Sao Paulo FC. Kaka's wife Carol even did an interview with the Spanish magazine RG saying that "we're going back to Brazil"and published an Instagram photo son Lucas in the 110,000 seat Morumbi Stadium, home to the Tricolor.
But the marketing-savvy Kaka, who has more than 12 million followers on Twitter, had different feelings about whether playing football in Brazil or the United States would be good for his reputation.
After Real Madrid blocked his transfer to competing European clubs and teams in the United States and Brazil showed interest Kaka, who also holds Italian citizenship, told Spanish media he felt that Mourinho and Real ownership wanted him playing third world football.
Time will tell if Kaka if can transform himself and the third world football he says Brazil plays into World Cup winners and if Manezes or someone else will coach the team. The stakes are also high for president Dilma, because her reelection campaign will be running during the FIFA 2014 World Cup. In a nation where the players blame the fans and the coach blames the CBF the believers in the civic religion Brazilians call futebol could blame a World Cup loss on Dilma and even vote her out of office.
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